Rassie Erasmus waters down talk of Munster going all the way
‘I think it would be stupid too put targets out there,’ the Munster director of rugby said
Jaco Taute of Munster is congratulated by supporters in the main stand at the final whistle after beating Warriors 14-12. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Rassie Erasmus is not inclined to bask in the glow of victory, but for once he could at least afford to reflect on the first real achievement of this time as Munster director of rugby on foot of them reaching the knock-out of the European Champions Cup for the 16th time overall and the first time in three seasons.
“Obviously we would be stupid if we stopped here,” said Erasmus. “But we are proud that we’ve reached it (the last eight) and we know next week will be very important to see who we play, so we will enjoy the night and then we will go back tomorrow and look realistically at today’s game.”
“I thought tactically for 25/30 minutes after half-time we were really poor and then at the end we were really street smart, so there’s a lot of work to be done, but we will enjoy it.”
Erasmus, needless to say, sought to play down talk of Munster again being contenders to win the trophy for a third time. “If we coach as hard and as best as we can, and the players try their best, and play as well as they can, if that will get us as far as possible, I think it would be stupid too put targets out there. Because we are fairly new team together and a fairly new management team, so it’s difficult to gauge where we can go, but if we don’t’ get a lot of injuries, and if we keep our form like this, I think we’ve got a chance of getting somewhere.”
Of the pressure Glasgow sought to put on Conor Murray especially, and it’s no surprise that they should target Munster’s best player, Erasmus said: “They did, and that’s why they’re Scottish internationals. As we all know they’re street smart and they get your ‘9’ on the ground after he’s kicked and they’ve got little plans like that, which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. After all of that it’s good to win the game.”
Francis Saili’s first try of a delayed season is probably the most valuable scored by a Munster player this season. “All our subs were on and they all had a good impact. It’s a squad effort and we’re proud to be in the quarter-finals.”
In his own inimitably honest and sporting way, Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend accepted that Munster had been the better team.
“It’s hugely disappointing for the players because of all the work the players put it. We knew how important this game was for us and for the club as a whole, and to lose it in the last seven or eight minutes made it even more disappointing.”
“But the better team won. I think at times we did well and especially at the start of the second-half we did things we had set out to do, but just on a few occasions we weren’t at our best today.”
Of Stuart Hogg’s yellow card, Townsend said: “I think it was a fair call and he had an excellent game today. To referee such a game was a credit to him.”
“They’ve got a very good defence, and we had to find other ways to create chances, and I thought we did well in the second half. We had several line breaks. I think the difference was what the two teams did in the 22s. We had line breaks and chances which we didn’t convert, where they took their chance.”
That said, he still thougth Glasgow could reach the last eight by beating Leicester in Welford Road next Saturday.